Recently I was given an Amazon voucher. My Principal Advisor suggested that my thank-you email to the donor might be the basis of a short blog post, so here is a summary of the books I bought.
- The Third Reich: A New History Michael Burleigh is one of my favourite contemporary historians. I’m looking forward to reading this book. He can usually be relied on to find new twists on old subjects. If you wanted to try one of his books I’d suggest starting with Blood and Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism.
- The Spartacus War: Barry Strauss I bought this on the basis of good reviews and the never-changing fascination of the subject. The author is new to me.
- Alanbrooke War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke The diaries of Alan Brooke (Pommy Chief of the Imperial General Staff for most of the Second World War) are a historical event in themselves. This is the first unexpurgated edition. I used to have a copy of the bowdlerised version that, when published in the 50s, resulted in Churchill never speaking to Brooke again, despite their intimate association during the war. It’s not that he is blind to Churchill’s virtues, but he’s not blind to his faults either. Fascinating.
- Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War: Robert K. Massie. I used to have a copy of this years ago and I now know much more about the period than I did then. Massie writes the type of well-researched and highly readable history that is ideal to curl up with on a winter’s day.
- Fire & Blood: A History of Mexico: T. R. Fehrenbach. I know quite a bit about the conquistadors, and a little bit of 20th century history but I don’t have a grasp of the continuity of Mexican history. Buying this book is an attempt to correct that deficiency. I wonder if it’s got anything about walls?
- Fame is the Spur: Howard Spring. One of my minor obsessions is middlebrow novelists of the 30s, 40s and 50s, some of whom I think are greatly undervalued. Howard Spring is one of them. I haven’t read this book but it was quite famous in its day. I believe its about a lower class Pommy who rises up the social ladder through Labour Party politics.
I’d be interested to hear other peoples’ opinions about any of these books.